Literally “long chair” in French, today's chaise longue is less an affectation of the wealthy and eccentric than it is an unusual — and surprisingly practical — solution to many tricky design challenges. It works well as an oversized chair, and negates the need for an ottoman. It's also at home wherever a daybed would be used. It even works as a sofa in spaces where flexible seating is a priority.
“A chaise is a good choice when you want a more open feel in your living room, or you don't want your seating closed in with arms,” says Margreet Cevasco, president of Margreet Cevasco Design in Sea Cliff.
Removing the lines of extra arms, or even backs, can allow for more interesting seating arrangements, and in turn encourage conversations and new ways to interact while entertaining, she says.
Chaises are also terrific choices for less public rooms. “We like to use chaises in the bedroom,” says Austin Handler, partner at Mabley Handler Interior Design in Water Mill. “It's nice to have a place to sit or lay down on other than the bed.” In addition, it's easy to be flexible when positioning chaises. “You can angle them in whatever direction best suits the lighting in the room, or place them at an angle that's best for viewing the television,” he says.
Part of the reason it's so easy to work with a chaise is that it's designed to be seen from every angle.
“I like to see the lines of a chaise instead of looking at the back of a sofa,” says Jennifer Duneier, president of Duneier Design, with offices in Manhattan and Bridgehampton. “And they're really great if they're in a little curved window or a nook you don't know what to do with.”
Of course, there are a few places where a chaise just won't work. “I see them in bathrooms and it looks cool, but no one would ever use that,” says Handler. “It could help cozy up a really large oversized bathroom, but from a practical point of view no one gets out of a shower and decides to lounge on a chaise.”
Also, not all chaises work in all spaces. “Make sure that whatever style chaise you select goes with the rest of your home,” says Duneier. “Don't throw a Victorian chase into a modern home. And it has to be the right scale. Don't put a 5-foot chaise across from an 8-foot sofa.”
When shopping for a chaise, it's important to know in advance where you want to put it. “A lot of chaises are asymmetrical, so you really want to know if the back is going to hit in the right place,” says Handley. “Make sure you know whether you want a righthanded or lefthanded chaise before you bring it home. You don't want to get a one-armed chaise that faces the wrong way.”
THE LOUNGE VIEW
The cutout back of this Hunter Lounge from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams keeps the focus on the view in the airy master bedroom of this Bridgehampton home. “I didn't want to block the window because it looks out on the backyard, which has a pool where the kids play,” says Jennifer Duneier, president of Duneier Design, with offices in Manhattan and Bridgehampton. The chaise combines the coziness of an oversized chair with the elegance of a tailored sofa, and offers an inviting seating alternative. “I find if I'm sitting in a room and reading a book, I want to be sprawled out on a chaise with a throw and my dogs curled up with me,” says Duneier.
Placing a custom-made chaise between two symmetrical seating areas in this Southold home gave Austin Handler, partner at Mabley Handler Interior Design in Water Mill, an easy way to both separate and integrate the room. “This is an entertaining room, and it's large, but we wanted to create more intimate areas,” says Handler. “We used the chaise, which is designed like a two-sided sofa, so that someone could sit down and be a part of either seating area.”
Although many homeowners would shy away from using grand, statement-making custom chaises in such close quarters, the design of these pieces actually opens up the room. “I wanted an alternative to big formal sofas, and the open end on these makes them very inviting and doesn't close off the space,” says Margreet Cevasco, president of Margreet Cevasco Design in Sea Cliff. For this sitting room at a Lattingtown home, Cevasco repurposed chaises originally created for the family's larger home and brought along when they decided to downsize.
For this master bedroom in Amagansett, Austin Handler, partner at Mabley Handler Interior Design in Water Mill, used a luxurious chaise from Long Island-based Kravet to bring pull together his airy floor plan. “It’s a large room,” says Handler. “So we added a bench at the foot of the bed, but we still needed something to fill up the rest of the room, and it had to be more than a chair.” Austin chose this chaise both for its generous proportions and for its unusual styling. “This is a year-round house for the family, we wanted the master bedroom to be cozy in the winter,” he says. “The lines and style on this chaise are so great, and it’s a really interesting piece, so it’s nice to have it in a corner and feature it.”
A deep 35-by-64-inch seat on the Kivik Chaise makes this a shoo-in for everyone's favorite lounging spot. The chaise works as a stand-alone piece of furniture or an add-on to any of the pieces in the coordinating collection, and it's covered in a layer of memory foam. Available in a choice of 10 machine-washable covers. $350 at Ikea, 1100 Broadway Mall, Hicksville, and ikea.com.
Contemporary styling and modern materials lend a streamlined, understated elegance to the Chilson Chaise Lounge by Jonathan Louis. The 70-by-38-inch chaise features a welted, tufted and stain-resistant charcoal gray upholstery, and the accent pillows are included. $869.95 at select Raymour & Flanigan Furniture on Long Island and raymourflanigan.com.
The swooping, curving lines of the Bruno Chaise by Cisco Brothers are toughened up with nailhead accents for a look that is completely sophisticated and quietly cool. Available in an almost limitless variety of upholstery options, including leather, the 33-by-60-inch chaise is equally at home by a sunny window or in a quiet nook. $2,295 to $4,995 at Rumrunner, 330 Montauk Hwy., Wainscott